Copyright: Packard (India).
Briefing: Gender & Healthcare
Innovations in healthcare are as wide-ranging as the conditions they seek to address, with different issues affecting different populations by geographic region, age, sex and other demographic factors. Health systems also vary widely, with resource levels and business models highly contingent on the context. However, in communities around the globe, women’s health remains a key indicator of development, and thus an important focal area of research and service delivery, from universities and public health organizations to local clinics and national hospitals.
The United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) annual Human Development Report measures numerous gender-related health indicators, for example rates of adolescent births, presence of skilled birth attendants, family planning and contraceptive prevalence, maternal mortality, gender-based violence, and female life expectancy. Many of these metrics serve as strong predictors of overall development and are therefore of national significance. Given the important social and economic outcomes that are possible at a population-level when women access health care information and services, enterprises that target women’s health and well-being represent a high-potential opportunity area for impact investments.
In order to contribute to progress on Sustainable Development Goal #3: (ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all people at all ages), investments in healthcare must consider how to engage women throughout value chains, and improve outcomes for female customers and patients. In addition to specific sexual and reproductive health services/products for women and girls, essential medicines, vaccines, and affordable primary health services are still in high demand in most emerging market economies. Meeting this demand for healthcare at scale in developing countries will require investment into human capital, health infrastructure, and related private enterprises to spur on such innovations, with women’s participation as a key solution to close talent and access gaps.
Since women also access and benefit from general healthcare differently than men, companies operating in the sector have much to gain through applying a purposeful gender lens across their workforce, from R&D and supply chains to operations and delivery of services/sales. Gender integration across the health sector value chain can deliver a diversity dividend for companies through engaging women as staff members and empowers them to serve women and men more effectively through differentiating products and services for specific customer segments, patient groups and community stakeholders. Specifically:
Some of the most impactful gender-smart health interventions in emerging economies involve practitioners who bring the treatment direct to the patient, enterprises that leverage technology solutions for greater access and delivery options, and initiatives to ‘right skill’ an efficient workforce by training and dispatching the requisite level of care.